Complaint upheld for George Hook rape remarks

A complaint against Newstalk has been upheld in full following George Hook’s comments about rape last year.

The BAI said the Communicorp station failed to take corrective action in a timely fashion following the event on September 8th 2017.

George questioned, after saying a recent rape incident was awful, that if there was an element of responsibility on a woman who gets raped after going back to a hotel room with a man she had just met.

The complainant said it was not appropriate for the presenter to blame an alleged victim of sexual assault for the fact that she was raped, and that she is personally disappointed and disgusted by the presenter’s comments and the lack of response from Newstalk. The complainant states that it took until Saturday lunchtime before Newstalk issued an apology, but only after 24 hours of uproar.

Newstalk states that the day following the initial broadcast, Saturday 9th September, the programme presenter and Newstalk issued an apology for the on-air remarks. On Monday 11th September, the presenter, while on-air, issued a further, more detailed, apology. The broadcaster states that an internal process within the station in relation to the comments was undertaken and, on Friday 15th September, it was confirmed that the presenter had been suspended from his duties at the station while the process was ongoing.

The broadcaster also states that on the 22nd September it was confirmed that the process which reviewed the circumstance that led to the presenter’s comments had concluded and Newstalk confirmed that the presenter would be stepping down from his lunchtime slot and would return in December when he will take on a new weekend show.

In addition, on week of Monday 2nd October Newstalk held a series of training sessions with presenters and production teams on BAI obligations, specifically on the BAI Code of Programme Standards and the BAI Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs.

However, the BAI says: “The Committee was of the view that the broadcaster had failed to take corrective action in a timely fashion, action which may have ameliorated the undue offence caused. Given this and given the content of the programme, the Committee has decided to uphold the complaint.”

A number of other complaints have also been made against Newstalk in the latest bulletin, which you can view online here.

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